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What We Read Today 06 December 2016

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


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Topics today include:

  • Should a Job Guarantee Program Replace Unemployment Compensation?

  • Universal Basic Income Can Save an Automated World

  • Is Sears Doomed?

  • Sleep-deprived drivers have plenty in common with drunk drivers

  • There is More than Money Needed for Improved Education

  • U.S. Trade Gap Surges

  • Did Donald Trump Tank Boeing Stock?

  • Theresa May is Not Seeing Things Go Her Way

  • UK Investment is Slowing

  • India Growth Rate Estimates Slashed

  • China Analysts Slam Trump

  • Mexico Ponders Life after NAFTA

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • US trade gap expands in biggest increase in 1-1/2 years (South China Morning Post)  The US trade deficit recorded its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years in October as exports of soybeans and other products fell, suggesting trade would be a drag on growth in the fourth quarter.  The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the trade gap rose 17.8%, the largest increase since March 2015, to US$42.6 billion. Higher imports due to rising domestic demand also contributed to the widening of the deficit.

  • Did Trump Tank Boeing Stock? (Twitter)  Econintersect:  Regardless of whether Donald Trump's tweet was appropriate for a president, Boeing (NYSE:BA) hardly "tanked".  It dropped about 1.5% and then more than recovered.  Does use of the word "tank" make this fake news?




  • Paris to sell off bridges' love locks and give the proceeds to refugees (The Guardian)  More than 1 million "love locks" removed from Parisian bridges will be sold to the public next year, with expected proceeds of €100,000 to be donated to refugee groups.  Locks not sold will be melted down and sold for scrap.  The love locks were placed on the bridges over the years by couples, particularly tourists, as a symbol of their love.


  • Goldman Sachs slices India growth estimates amid currency crackdown (South China Morning Post)  The cash crunch is taking a bite off Indian growth.  Economists at Goldman Sachs, led by Nupur Gupta, cut their estimates for inflation-adjusted output for the fourth quarter of 2016 a paltry 4.0% (annual rate), citing a sharper-than-initially-estimated fall in consumer sentiment and industrial production amid the demonetization drive.  This compares with a median estimate of 6.5% from a Bloomberg survey of 12 economists published in late-November. The latter projection, though higher than Goldman’s, is also notably weaker than a previous 7.8% estimate.  Goldman on Tuesday also further downgraded its outlook for the 2017 fiscal year, estimating the economy will expand by 6.3% year-on-year, compared with a Bloomberg median estimate of 7.3%.  Econintersect:  Using an internal combution engine analogy, run without oil and the engine will seize up.

  • Thousands pay tribute to Jayalalithaa Jayaram in Chennai (The Guardian)  Tens of thousands of people have thronged the Chennai seafront to farewell the Tamil Nadu chief minister many simply called “Amma”, or mother, in a lavish state funeral.  Jayalalithaa Jayaram, a four-time leader of the south Indian state, was interred on Tuesday at a beachside shrine beside her mentor, MG Ramachandran, whose path she followed from showbusiness into politics in the early 1980s.



  • Mexico ponders the future of trade with the U.S. (MarketPlace)  Mexicans are anxious about the future of  the North American Free Trade Act, and how the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may seek to change or even withdraw from the agreement.  Mexican officials are now speaking with Asian nations about how trade between Mexico and Asia might change in a post-NAFTA era.  Mexican analysts expressed concern that new investment may slow down due to uncertainty about the agreement.  NAFTA took effect Jan. 1 1994, aiming to remove many tariffs and integrate major sectors of the economies of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.  Trump's victory is prompting some in Mexico, particularly on the left, to double down on their own nationalist goals, which include reducing economic dependence on the U.S.

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • Investors just got another sign that Sears is doomed (Business Insider)  Investors just got another sign that Sears Holdings' third quarter results could be particularly dismal.  Lands' End, a brand that's sold primarily in Sears' stores, reported a 14.3% drop in same-store sales in the third quarter.  The company blamed slowing shopper traffic at Sears for the drop.  Se also Sears is on the brink of catastrophe as store closures loom and top execs flee the company

  • Sleep-deprived drivers have plenty in common with drunk drivers (The Washington Post)  Drivers who have had too little sleep are no different than those who have had three or four drinks and are too drunk to drive.  Those are the findings of an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report released Tuesday that draws on original research and past studies to create a troubling picture of the risk caused by a go-go world where many people don’t get enough rest.  About 35% of people get fewer than the needed seven hours of sleep, and 12% say they sleep for five hours or less, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  See also Falling asleep causes 1 in 5 auto crashes.

  • The Job Guarantee Program: A Policy Platform for Sustainable Prosperity (Fadhel Kaboub, Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and Denison University)  A job guarantee program that will offer everyone who is willing to work the opportunity to do so would offer an alternative to unemployment compensation during economic downturns and provide a ready source of workers when needed by the private sector during economic expansions.


  • Universal basic income could become reality (Marketplace)  One big idea is re-emerging as automation and software take over many jobs formerly held by humans. It's called universal basic income, a policy in which all citizens would get money from the government. There are already a number of experiments going on around the world based on universal incomes.  As President Trump finds out the jobs are not coming back he could turn to this a;ternative way of keeping the economy going.

  • What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries (The New York Times)  Every three years, half a million 15-year-olds in 69 countries take a two-hour test designed to gauge their ability to think. Unlike other exams, the PISA, as it is known, does not assess what teenagers have memorized. Instead, it asks them to solve problems they haven’t seen before, to identify patterns that are not obvious and to make compelling written arguments. It tests the skills, in other words, that machines have not yet mastered.

     The latest results, released Tuesday morning, reveal the United States to be treading water in the middle of the pool. In math, American teenagers performed slightly worse than they usually do on the PISA — below average for the developed world, which means they scored worse than nearly three dozen countries. They did about the same as always in science and reading, which is to say average for the developed world.  But equity across socio-economic classes has been improving in the U.S., one piece of good news amidst the not so good for America.

    Econintersect:  The graphic below is presented twice, once as in The NYT and the second with an estimated straight line regression mean (black) and arbitrary lines (red) to define the estimated one-standard deviation boundaries within the data.  The wide scatter suggests that there are other significant factors in education performance in addition to money spent.  The U.S. has negative effects (relatively), as do countires like Iceland, Britian, Malta, and Luxembourg.  Countries with significant positive effect factors, like Taiwan, Estonia, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and Poland, should be compared with the negatively deviating countries like the U.S. to identify some of these non-financial factors.  Two things that The NYT mentions as positive factors are the existence of widely used standards with a given country (like Common Core in the U.S.) and the strength of math education having an outweighted influence on the overall education ranking.  The U.S. is especially weak in math education.


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